Sleep disturbances may be connected to migraine because of similar genetic determinants. This according to the findings of a recent Mendelian randomization (MR) study.
While it has been believed that certain sleep issues and disturbances are associated with an increased risk of migraine, the underlying biology of the relationship between the two conditions remained unclear.
In order to identify the clear link between migraine and sleep disturbances, the team of researchers used data from the United Kingdom Biobank and the International Headache Genetics Consortium genome-wide association study (IHGC GWAS) of migraine and conducted a cross-trait linkage disequilibrium score regression and MR.
MR is a natural experiment where individuals are randomly exposed to a given risk factor (such as insomnia symptoms) based on their own genetic risks. Later in life, the risk of a disease outcome (such as migraine), as an effect of the exposure, is then measured.
The UK Biobank data has 237,627 cases of individuals with 9 distinct sleep traits. On the other hand, the IHGC GWAS has data from 59,674 migraine cases and 316,078 controls.
The team found that 7 of these sleep traits genetically overlapped with migraine. These traits included insomnia symptoms, difficulty awakening, too long sleep duration and too short sleep duration, napping, and daytime sleepiness. Among these traits, the strongest genetic correlation was found between migraine and insomnia. This is followed by short sleep duration.
On the other hand, there was no clear genetic correlation between migraine and snoring and morning diurnal preference.
Overall, the results of the study confirmed that the highly pleiotropic migraine genetic loci influences sleep traits. However, because there is no strong evidence associating migraine with morning diurnal preference, the team hypothesized that the effect of difficulty awakening on migraine may be caused by poor sleep quality.
Furthermore, the findings of the study mean that scientists may soon be able to manage migraine by treating sleep disturbances.
- Can’t resist daytime napping? Blame your genes
- Migraines: Do you Have a High Genetic Risk?
- The genetics behind sudden heart attacks among young, healthy women